Trips to the mall can be excruciating, especially during the busy holiday season. Now, with virtual reality, fed-up consumers can get the experience of walking through the mall, but without the crowds—and with a lot more zoo animals.
For her masters thesis, British designer Allison Crank created a digital mall that users can stroll through at their leisure. Called The Reality Theatre, the experience immerses the user in a completely different kind of shopping center.
"[With] the rise of online shopping and cyberspace, shops and malls are facing rapid obsolescence. To counter this, I propose that stores should be transformed into playgrounds for experiences, where consumers become actors with the ability to perform, spectate, play and indulge themselves in the environment," Crank explains on her website.
By putting on an Oculus Rift headset, users are transported to a technicolor shopping center with futuristic floating signs and free-roaming virtual zebras and giraffes (because why not?). They'll also encounter other shoppers, all wearing wild, colorful dresses.
However, shopping is not the main objective at this kaleidoscopic playground, according to the artist. "Shopping is a public performance. Stores are theatres where you can be both performer and spectator," Crank says.
"You assume the role of Ms. Smith, who is shopping for a chair in the Reality Theatre, from the moment she enters, to her interactions with the designer, to when she leaves. I leave it up to the viewers to immerse themselves in the virtual stage and performance."
The new spin on shopping was shown at the Design Academy Eindhoven as part of Dutch Design Week 2015.